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Noted entrepreneur Upkins tells guests at luncheon to put families first

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There was a large attendance for the Williamson, Inc. Black Business Coalition’s lunch-and-learn held Feb. 28 at the chamber’s office in Franklin.

Highlight of the luncheon was the talk from keynote speaker Louis Upkins, renowned entrepreneur who is known in the corporate world for successfully creating strategic alliances and partnerships with Fortune 500 companies and within the sports and entertainment industries, including Oprah Winfrey, Jockey, Olympics, World Cup and Starbucks, among others.

Upkins spoke of growing up in East Nashville and starting his first business at age 12. He later turned his T-shirt business he started in college into a successful business. He spoke of getting an integrity lesson from a neighbor who was an entrepreneur through his grass-cutting business.

“He noticed that I raised my blades to cut less grass and cut more often, which was unfair,” Upkins said. “It was a lesson that stuck.”

Upkins brought copies of his book “Treat Me Like a Customer” for attendees, and shared some of what it covers. In his book, Upkins describes the importance of treating family as one would treat customers and clients. He emphasized how prioritizing family time is essential and pivotal to true success.

In addition, Upkins referenced Dave Steward, chairman of World Wide Technology, one of the largest minority-owned companies in the U.S with revenues of $16 billion and one of the largest in the world. Upkins works with and advises Steward, who is one of 13 Black billionaires.

Steward’s philosophy is to set your family calendar before your business calendar, and you will be available for family time and events.

Upkins also answered audience questions, which ranged from advice on starting business to maintaining business and cultivating relationships.

A highlight of the event was when Mariah Williams, a Centennial High School junior, asked how to gain awareness and expand her business. She is the CEO and founder of Shifted, Mind and Body, and was having an event Saturday at the Entrepreneurial Innovation Center where Williamson County Schools students engage in developing businesses.

Upkins promptly interviewed her and gave her seasoned advice, while also recruiting CASA Executive Director Stuart Tutler to be a speaker at her event.

Upkins closed the session by encouraging the audience to always put in the work it takes to make your businesses successful without sacrificing your family.  

Attendees were treated to lunch by Maurice Pope, owner of Moe Better BBQ including barbecue, ribs, baked beans, cole slaw, cornbread, tea and banana pudding.

The BBC lunch-and-learn committee was very well pleased with the turnout and looks forward to future events.  

Williamson, Inc. CEO Matt Largen had the idea of forming BBC in 2019, and it has thrived. Committee co-chairs are Tara Blue and Robert Blair, and they can be contacted by accessing the Williamson, Inc. website for additional information.

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